When we think of that word, we tend to picture the scene of shepherds guarding their sheep by night on a hill in the country of Judea, Israel. Suddenly, an angel appears with good news about a baby, born in a manger, then a multitude of angels join in singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men.” We hear about it every Christmas: peace on earth. We sing about it. We pray for it. Peace on Earth: an end to wars, an end to bitterness and hostility, an end to fear. We even talk about how nice it would be to have Christmas all year long, so we could always focus on peace and goodwill toward all mankind.
But wars go on. Bitter struggles that have lasted for centuries continue. We find new ways to kill, new things to be afraid of.
In fact, if you were to Google the top stories of 2011, you would find articles on the Japan earthquake, tsunamis, riots around the globe, overthrown governments, the death of dictators, Occupy Wall Street, protests, Steve Jobs, and more.
Just this past week: bombings in Baghdad, families being held hostage by the Taliban, babies gone missing and the payroll tax issue in the US.
I even face it at work – domestic violence, workplace threats, robberies…the list goes on. The Christmas ideal of peace on earth seems to be nothing more than an oasis in the midst of this violent world…maybe even a mirage.
The news headlines are discouraging. The reality of war and hate among nations is too close to home. And it is hard to know what to say to those enduring this season without their loves ones for the first time. Yet, despite all of this, there is still a message ringing through the air: peace on earth.
The scriptures are clear:
For it pleased the Father that in him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on Earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:19-20
He came for this purpose.
For He Himself is our peace. He has made us both one, and has broken down the hostile dividing wall between us. Ephesians 2:14
His goal was sure.
When we think about peace, it’s important to remember that God and Satan have been at war since the beginning of time. As Christians, we have joined God’s forces. We are no longer at war with God. He offers us peace; shalom rather, a peace that fills from within, rather than without. Our physical peace will not be complete until Jesus returns and Satan is defeated or we go home to be with Him.
I believe that the peace Jesus brought brings more than that. Jesus didn’t come to take our problems away. He came to stand with us in the midst of our problems so that we could find that He is our peace.
As if the angels who met the shepherds long ago were still singing, their message has carried through the ages. Longfellow was right. Tragedies constantly bombard our doorsteps, yet there is a reverberation ringing through the air. If we listen with our hearts and not judge with our eyes or our minds, we can hear it too.
Then rang the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor does He sleep…Peace on earth, Peace on earth…The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with Peace on earth , goodwill to men.
With great compassion, God saw the condition of His creation and made a provision for change (John 3:16)
The storms of life do not end on Christmas day. Trials and tribulations are often with us every day of the year.
Christ was born to bring peace to you and to your world. You can choose to be a part of Christ’s peace or choose to use your free will to turn away from Him. God leaves it up to you to decide to live in Christ’s peace…even in the storms of your life. When you open your heart and soul to unwrap Christ’s gift of peace, His peace flows into you.
Peace it not only available. Peace is possible. May you find it, not only this season, but all year long.
May the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16